It’s said that our format has a higher percentage of fans than other contemporary music formats. If we have so many fans, why is there so little cheering?
Recently I read…
“The act of cheering for a sports team, player or event is inherently illogical at its very core; yelling in support of your team doesn’t actually do anything to affect the result. But we do it anyway. We do it because it makes us feel connected to what’s going on, because we want something happy to happen, because hoping for something to happen from the very beginning makes it that much more thrilling when it actually does happen. We invest ourselves in an activity that has nothing to do with us. It’s the basic foundation of being a fan.” Will Leitch
Despite a higher percentage of fans, too often our stations remain invisible around town. It’s rare to see any Christian station bumper sticker on the highways, but no less rare on the bumpers in the church parking lots, home of our season-ticket holders!
We sell time, we fill time, we announce the time. Whether the vernacular is time spent listening or average weekly time exposed we in radio are in the business of time.
Roy Williams recently wrote, “People don’t trade money for things when they value their money more highly than they value the things.”
Your listeners won’t give you their time if they value doing other things more highly than they value giving it to you.
Even when they finally give us their time, we often waste it. Too much chatter. Songs they don’t love. Information that isn’t relevant. Traffic reports for traffic they’re not in.
Give your station some time right now and listen to what you hear. You’re either giving your listeners something of value or your wasting their time.
One time we’ll waste their time one too many times and they won’t come back.
To paraphrase baseball legend Yogi Berra, if somebody doesn’t want to listen then nobody is going to stop them.
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – C. S. Lewis
It’s Mother’s Day, not only a day of celebration but a day of reflection. It’s amazing what mom do for us, and how they teach us. One leadership lesson I learned from my mom was humility. She thought you’d never be a great leader if getting credit is the driving force behind what you do.
My mom was a foster mother for dozens of kids over the years, but only the ones no one else wanted. That’s why I was raised in a household with American Indian babies, blind kids, ones with cleft palates, and African American babies.
I heard someone play the violin this morning in church. I love the violin, but for a different reason than most. I love the violin because my mother played the violin. All through my Wonder Years I happily followed my mom around while she played in the orchestra for shows like “The Sound of Music”, “My Fair Lady”, and “Brigadoon.” Growing up in a musical family has given me a worldview that has shaped even my professional journey.
“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is if they are showing you the way.” Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz”
“Each person has a different set of biases and values and assumptions, and those world views are influenced by their parents, their schools, the places they live and the experiences they’ve had to date. Their worldview is the lens they use to determine whether or not they’re going to believe a story.” Seth Godin
We see this demonstrated every election season when one candidate’s signs are abundant in one neighborhood but his opponent is prominent in another. We see it on Super Bowl Sunday, Christmastime, and the 4th of July. We also see this played out at our radio stations.
I’ve actually never seen one but I hear about the magic bullet almost every week. We yearn to embrace solutions that are simple and don’t require too much thinking.
Run a new contest.
Change the deejays around.
Run more traffic reports. Run fewer traffic reports.
Play more Toby Mac.
Let’s change the voice over guy!
Breath in a bag, hon!
Now don’t get me wrong, in certain situations it might be good to consider one of these tactics. But it’s fascinating how perfectly reasonable people accept a magic bullet without hesitation. We want to believe the simple. Perhaps it’s because everything else is hard.
Lose twenty pounds in a week!
Pardon the interruption!
At my request some stations recently asked listeners what they were usually doing while listening to the radio.
The responses ranged from driving, to driving, to driving.
“All of my usual stuff – I have it on throughout the day at home, and in the car. I also like to listen to it before I go to sleep… it is good to fall asleep to so that I have beautiful thoughts to dream with”
“Cleaning the house. making food for my husband and me, driving anywhere”
“We listen in the morning while getting breakfast ready and my daughter gets ready for school. I listen in the car. I have it on
while doing most things around the house.”
“Cleaning, cooking, or getting ready to go out. My 11-year-old likes to listen before bedtime.”
There’s a financial talk show on a small AM radio station where I live that I occasionally listen to. It’s terrible radio, but the guys are smart, cough a lot, and give insightful advice. Besides, they’ve helped me make a gazillion imaginary dollars in the stock market.
The trouble is they don’t understand radio and way too much of the show is comprised with inside references (the office neck tie policy), dropped phone calls (“is the caller there? Hello? Please turn down your radio!”), actually reading articles out loud from the Wall Street Journal (BORING!), or making references to things they said thirty minutes ago (“Do I have to repeat this again?”).
Well, Friday – Good Friday – topped it all!
It’s funny what sticks in our minds. We can remember an unkind word from Marlene Breedlove in the fifth grade but have a harder time recalling something nice said last week.
The guys in the white lab coats say there is a reason for this. I’m told that a negative experience is immediately stored in our brain’s long term memory, while a positive experience needs to rattle around for more than twelve seconds before checking in to that part of the brain.
The reason for this dates back to the prehistoric days at the rock quarry so that Fred and Barney would know when a tarantula was about to sneak up on them!
“Fight or flight” is the plot of any well-written cartoon, don’tchaknow! We remember the negative stuff and we want to immediately kill the tarantula!
This is programming tip #200. Yee haw! I’ve written one of these every week for almost four years! Neato! Nifty!
That, my friends, is an example of inside thinking. Nobody really cares that this is programming tip #200 except me. And even I don’t think it’s as important as whether my Golden Retriever puppy has been taken for a walk recently.
Inside thinking is the default of every station, because we’re all inside!
A television station in my town has marketing campaign based on their 25 years on the air. It includes various notables of their network congratulating them and lauding that they are “the best station in town!” One network celebrity (whose initials are Jimmy Fallon) says, “it’s the best station in town, and the best station in any town.” I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.
Almost every discussion about programming follows a paint by numbers trajectory.
Music! Paint that section!
Personalities? Color in another!
Station imaging? Draw in that section over there.
Just this week I’ve heard these statements:
“That station is too Christian.”
“That station isn’t Christian enough.”
Diagnosis by quota, interpreted like a programming P&L, drives both statements.